Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has published a special video message for the citizens of Greece, saying it is time to discover the facts about the Prespa Agreement with Macedonia and to find out the truth.
“With the Prespa Agreement we protect our (province) Macedonia. We overcome fear and with inertia of self-confidence we open the way to peace and economic growth,” Tsipras said in a video entitled “The Truth about the Prespa Agreement”. This agreement, as Greek prime minister stresses, is “the cornerstone of friendship of the Balkan region, of cooperation and fraternity of nations.”
“Our neighbors differentiate their identity, admit that their language is Slavic and that their culture is not in any way related to the ancient Greek heritage. Through the Prespa Agreement, we recognize citizenship, not the ethnic group. There will be no irredentism in their textbooks. They change the names of the monuments, infrastructure and public space,” Tsipras said. In the current Greek campaign for interpreting the benefits of the Prespa agreement, he answers several of the most frequently asked questions: What was the national line accepted by the previous governments? What does Greece get from the Prespa agreement? How is Greece secured in case any next government decides to withdraw from the Prespa agreement? What will happen if Greece does not ratify the Prespa agreement?
Asked whether Greece recognizes the “Macedonian nation” and “Macedonian language”, his answer was – no.
1) The agreement defines only the “citizenship” of the neighboring country’s citizens, which is a legal relationship between the citizen and the state. In addition, FYROM formally confirmed to Greece through the Memorandum of Understanding of 16/1/2019, which is legally binding for FYROM, that the use of the term “nationality” in the English version of the Prespa Agreement refers only to “citizenship”. In fact, both Greece and FYROM, in their official translations of the agreement, attributed the English term “nationality” to the word “citizenship”. In addition, in all international texts (both conventional and non-negotiable) the term “nationality” denotes nationality, not national origin.
2) Today, more than 25 years, in the passports of Macedonian citizens, citizenship is defined by the word “Makedonsko” (“Macedonian”). Since 2009, even for FYROM, visa liberalization for the Schengen area applies to citizens with those passports.
(3) Since the entry into force of the Agreement, “/citizen of North Macedonia” is added to all travel documents in citizenship, on the term already in use.
4) The Prespa agreement does not mention or regulate ethnic issues. In addition, the amendment to the FYROM Constitution states that “citizenship does not specify, nor does it determine the ethnicity of the citizens of the country”. This is stated explicitly and binding on FYROM in a verbal note sent from Skopje.
5) Accordingly, the Agreement does not recognize the “Macedonian people” or “the Macedonian nation”. Moreover, the agreement does not deny the right of Greek citizens to call the citizens of our neighboring country under the terms they use today (Article 7).
As for the recognition of the language, the explanation reads:
1) The Third UN Conference on Standardization of Geographical Names held in 1977 in Athens recognized the “Macedonian” as an official language. However, in his speech in September 1959, Foreign Minister E Averof stressed: “The Macedonian language spoken in Skopje is not spoken in Greek Macedonia and has its own grammar and syntax”.
2) The designation of the Macedonian language, codename MK, MKD, has been used since 1994, with no asterisks, as can be seen on the official UN website (see pages 1 and 94), and as it is formally presented by the International standardization organization with ISO 639-1 and 639-2 :.
3) The agreement explicitly states that the official language of the neighbor belongs to the group of Slavic languages, and is “not related to the ancient Greek culture” of Macedonia and “is not related to […] the history, culture and heritage of Macedonia (Article 7 (4)).
4) Also, according to the Agreement, Greek citizens reserve the right to continue to apply to the above-mentioned language under the conditions they currently use (Article 7 (5)).
About the trade measures, the explanation reads:
1) The Prespa Agreement does not affect the validity of the Greek trademarks under the name Macedonia. In particular, the provisions on trademarks are fully compatible with European legislation and with international law, and in particular with the Madrid Commercial Property Treaty. This means that trademarks registered by Greek companies at national, European or international level and containing references for Macedonia are fully protected.
2) The status of the neighboring country as a future candidate for EU membership implies an obligation to adapt to the European acquis. Products bearing an Appellation of origin (AOs), as well as products for geographical indication (PGI) that are related to Macedonia, have already been identified with the existing EU regulations and apply exclusively to Macedonia. Macedonian wine, for example, is embedded in the EU regulation. By their very nature, geographical definitions refer to specific regions, not to entire countries. The fact that the agreement contains an explicit reference to the work of an international expert group within the EU guarantees the interests of our country’s companies as a member state.
3) The agreement creates the conditions for a dialogue between the two business communities of the two countries that will in good faith find a way out and solutions to other issues that may be related to brands and corporate logos in the future. However, what is guaranteed in European and national legislation has been introduced and does not change. (NV)